"The current rates of blood pressure control in the elderly are unacceptably low," said Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., assistant professor of preventive medicine and assistant professor of medicine, division of cardiology, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Lloyd-Jones said that among hypertensive individuals in the 1990s, the overall prevalence of blood pressure control (lower than 140 systolic/90 diastolic) was around 34 percent.
Control rates declined with advancing age, with a more dramatic decline in women. Among those 80 and older with hypertension, only 32 percent of men and 24 percent of women had their blood pressure under control.
"The elderly are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and they have the highest prevalence of hypertension. Yet, clinicians seem to be reluctant to treat older patients aggressively, perhaps because of perceived lower benefits or possible increased risk of side effects," Lloyd-Jones said.
Lloyd-Jones and colleagues from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study pooled data from almost 14,100 examinations of participants in the study from 1990 through 1999.
The Framingham Heart Study, initiated in 1948 in Framingham, Mass., is the longest-running prospective epidemiological study of heart disease. Researchers are now enrolling the grandchildren of the study's original participants.
The current study included about 2,230 men and 2,960 women. Participants were classified by age younger than 60, 60 to 79 and 80 and older.
As expected, the prevalence of hypertension increased markedly with advancing age. In the younger-than-60 age group, around 27 percent had high blood pressure; and i
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